PLO official calls for int’l protection of Palestinians until end of Israeli occupation

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RAMALLAH, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) — Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat said Tuesday that the people of Palestine need international protection until the end of the Israeli occupation.

His announcement came in reaction to Israel’s decision not to extend the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH).

“We call upon the United Nations to guarantee the safety and protection of the people of Palestine, not only ensuring the continued presence of TIPH in Hebron, but also to deploy permanent international presence in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, until the end of Israel’s belligerent occupation,” Erekat said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that Israel will not extend the mandate of TIPH, which has been in operation in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for 20 years.

The Oslo Accords, signed between the PLO and Israeli government in 1995, called for a partial redeployment of Israeli forces in Hebron and a second temporary international presence in Hebron to be established as the Israeli forces were redeployed from the city.

The set up of the TIPH was led by Norway and it has been operating since January 1997.

The renewal of the TIPH team’s mandate takes place every six months by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA has approved the team’s mandate for another six months last week.

The TIPH, composed of 64 international observers from five European countries and headed by Norway, was established upon the adoption of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 904, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre that took place in 1994.

On February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a settler and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reserve medic, entered into the mosque during the dawn prayers on a Ramadan morning and killed 29 worshippers and injured another 125. Goldstein was killed by survivors of the attack.

The UNSC Resolution 904 also called upon Israel to confiscate arms of the Israeli settlers to prevent them from committing further crimes against the people of Palestine.

“Israel has never honored international will nor law. Just yesterday, Benjamin Netanyahu again confirmed to the settler movement that even Israeli colonial installations, considered illegal by Israeli law, will not be removed and that the entirety of the land of historic Palestine is for the State of Israel,” said Erekat.

He added that “the latest Israeli decision not to renew the mandate of TIPH, which has existed since 1997, is an additional step towards Israel’s nullification of all signed treaties, including the Oslo Interim Agreement.”

It further consolidates the Israeli colonial enterprise and represents one further step towards a “de jure” annexation of further areas in the occupied State of Palestine, noted Erekat.

“With the support of the current U.S. administration, Israel continues to incite against and violate the fundamental and national rights and freedom of the people of Palestine, and to degrade and insult the very body that unites the nations of our world, the United Nations,” he added.

“The continuation of Israeli escalations, including the threat of home evictions facing several Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem, against Palestinian men, women, children and elderly, necessitate the immediate intervention of the international community,” said Erekat.

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